In Illinois, the state mandated minimum auto liability insurance levels are woefully inadequate. After a friend was involved in an accident and the at-fault driver's coverage didn't even come close to covering his friend's injuries, State Representative David Leitch introduced House Bill 231 to increase the minimum liability limits.
Currently, the minimum auto insurance liability limits in Illinois are 20/40/15; bodily injury liability of $20,000 per person, with a maximum of $40,000 per accident, and a property damage liability limit of $15,000 per accident. Leitch proposed raising the minimum limits to 100/300/100, providing bodily injury coverage of $100,000 per person, $300,000 per accident, and property damage liability of $100,000 per accident.
The insurance industry lined up to oppose the bill. State Farm, Liberty Mutual, the Illinois Insurance Association, the American Insurance Association, and the Property and Casualty Insurers of America all spoke out against the bill. Many of their speakers echoed the sentiments of Kevin Martin of the Illinois Insurance Association. Martin stated the number of uninsured would "skyrocket". They argue that increasing the limits will drive up premiums, forcing people to drop their coverage. They had no statistics to back up the claim, however.
This is a balancing act for insurance regulators across the country. Is it better to have more people insured with a little coverage or fewer insured, but with enough coverage to do some good? I guess it depends on whether you are involved in a fender-bender or a major accident!
Regardless of what the law in your state requires as a minimum level of coverage, in my opinion you should always carry liability limits of at least 100/300/50. If you own a home, have other attachable assets, or have a few years of future earnings to protect, you should think about adding more. The additional cost is negligible, but the protection could be a financial lifesaver. Cheap auto insurance at the expense of proper coverage is a disaster waiting to happen.
Don't count on your legislature or your fellow man to protect you. Buy as much uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage as your insurance company will allow. That way, regardless of how poorly the guy that hit you was covered, you will have the means to pay your medical bills.
Compare rates from a few auto insurance companies, and if you need the advice of an agent, seek out a couple of them. Go with an agent who analyzes your needs and recommends coverage, not the guy who just wants to do a comparison quote of what you already have. You may be surprised at how little it cost to double or triple your coverage.
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